Life reconstruction of the amazing 150-million-year-old elephantine theropod Fujianvenator

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Have you ever seen a small, fluffy chicken that crows noisily and wonders: This came from the powerful reptilian group that once ruled our planet? Well, dinosaurs might have been rolling in their rocky graves thinking what else happened to them, but that’s evolution.

To the chickens’ credit, they can be quite ferocious when threatened. However, it was the bone structure of birds that initially convinced paleontologists that today’s birds evolved from dinosaurs.

Fossil evidence indicates that theropods—a lineage of small-bodied, two-legged, feathered creatures—gave rise to birds during the late Jurassic period (which lasted roughly 161-145.0 million years ago). For decades, it was the 150-million-year-old remains of Archeopteryx, a genus of bird dinosaur, that marked the remarkable early moment in the evolution of modern birds.

Because bird-like dinosaurs had brittle, hollow bones, the odds of them being well preserved are always lower. But in a stroke of great luck, researchers discovered the fossils of another dinosaur from the Jurassic period at a site near Nanping in China’s Fujian province – where no dinosaur fossils had been found before.

Moreover, this discovery holds promise as it could fill a 30-million-year-old gap in the fossil records of the history of birds and dinosaurs, while shedding much-needed light on a key evolutionary stage in the origin of birds.

Name it Fujianvenator is a miracleA chicken-sized, bird-like dinosaur with long legs and wing-like arms that lived in southeastern China. It lived 150 million years ago and shows an odd set of characteristics, sharing morphological features with birds, troodontids, and dromaeosaurs.

This dinosaur is a study in contrast. With its skull and tail not yet found, its body shows features common to bird-like dinosaurs. However, it lacked the kind of modifications that would contribute to flight.

Moreover, its extremely long hind legs indicate a very skilled runner, while the stilts could also mean that the legs helped it wade through swamps – that’s where it was found.

To prove definitively that this creature was either a fast runner or a wader as some modern birds do–an ecological niche previously unknown to early birds, researchers must examine the ends of its toes for signs of webbing. The problem here is that these numbers are poorly preserved.

The current study is a valuable addition to the growing body of evidence indicating that by the time of Archeopteryx, dinosaurs may have already diversified into different types of birds!

The results of this study are detailed in nature It can be accessed here.


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